Pix240 Dropouts

A few weeks ago I tried to connect our GoPro Hero 3 to our Sound Devices Pix240 but I got all kinds of digital breakup in the picture.

GoPro connected to PIX
GoPro connected to PIX

I assumed it was related to the GoPro outgoing HDMI stream somehow and haven’t had time to play more with it since.
Today I got a bit of a shock when downloading and scrolling through my footage! It was exactly the same problems, this time with footage shot on our Sony PDW-700. Shot in 1080/25p (1/50 and 1/100). Pix 240 registered that the footage coming out of the camera via HDSDI was indeed 1080/25p/psF/10bit. Time code rolled from the camera and triggered the Pix to start recording. Recorded in ProRes 422 HQ onto SSD. No error message or warning what so ever. There was no way to tell until screening the footage on a proper monitor.

I’ve never seen this before on the Pix before we updated to the new firmware (Aurora (v3.0)) I’ve shot with it on our Sony F3 as well as the PDW-700 countless times without any issues, but that was before the FW update. Could that be the reason?

PIX_Dropout2
Shot on Sony XDCam PDW-700 and output to Pix240. Frame grab saved as Jpeg (12)
PIX_Dropout1
Shot on Sony XDCam PDW-700 and output to Pix240. Frame grab saved as Jpeg (12)

Any suggestions or thoughts would be really be appreciated!??

 

GoPro to Pix240

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Today right before leaving the office I tried hooking up our GoPro Hero 3 Black edition to our Pix240. After turning off the OSD (on screen display) on the GoPro I got a clean picture on the Pix.
The display on the Pix read the incoming video as 1080/50i/8bit.

Tomorrow I’ll record some video to see what it looks like. If clean and uncompressed out of the GoPro it’d be nice to pass on the in-camera codec and record in ProRes.

Pix240

So we’ve had the Pix240 for a few months now and I thought I’d post a few thoughts on it.

As we all know cameras like the Sony F3 have amazing sensors and output a stunning picture but the codec written to the internal media is less desirable for high end work. Enter an external recorder. There are many on the market like the Aja KiProMini, Atomos Ninja, Convergent Design Gemini and a few others.

They all have some features that set them apart but all of them have one thing in common, taking the great picture that leaves the sensor and capturing it to a better/higher quality format than what’s being recorded in the camera.

The Pix240 is made by Sound devices, most well know perhaps for their top of the line audio gear. Well they’ve moved on to video as well, a very well executed move in my opinion. This Pix records in industry standard Apple ProRes or Avid DNxHD. Input/output options are a SDI/HDSDI/HDMI as well as Analog XLR and AES3 digital audio. Timecode and Genlock are also available. On the side there is also a headphone jack with the option of choosing which channels to monitor.

One of the first things you think of is the big display on the front. To be honest it is not a very good display to judge either focus or color but it still serves an important purpose. To have the full on-screen-display (OSD) of the User Interface (UI) is simply outstanding. To see able to see all the audio channels, codec, frame rate, disk space, recording, etc is really reassuring in a stressful situation. The recorder triggers to start recording with the TC in the HD-SDI stream or you can simply hit REC.

Also being able to scroll through your clip list and quickly review a take is very handy. Of course you could watch it on board monitor (which you’ll still need to see focus and color) but having the display in the unit makes it easier. You can quickly toggle the OSD on and off.

Great On Screen Display

This is really well built recorder made in a metal/carbon fiber chassis.

Scroll wheel and meny buttons

The buttons on the front are all small and recessed in the frame but easy to operate. On the side there is a push enabled scroll wheel which controls the meny, again, very easy to use. The UI and the meny system in divided up into 7 categories and with the display and all many options in plain text, you can’t go wrong in your setup .

The bigger buttons on the front are lit up and you have the option of choosing how brightly the’ll shine. You can easily see what button is active, even in full daylight. Great!

All data is written to the on board Compact Flash card or an SSD drive. The option of using an SSD drive directly in the unit is one aspects I like most. We bought a bunch of SSD drives and labeled them up. 120GB a piece gives us roughly 90 min of footage in ProRes HQ /25p. SSD are a lot cheaper than CF cards and also really fast to offload.
Built into the SSD “sled” is both USB3 and FW800 which helps if you need to offload in the field. We actually bought an extra just to use as an offload dock.

SSD "caddy"
CF card slot

The Pix records in a variety of resolutions and bit rates and wraps the files as .MOV in either Apple ProRes or DNxHD depending on your editing platform. It will also Up/Down/Cross convert your video to suit your needs, also very handy.

Underneath and on the side of the unit are all the I/O ports. Easy access and pretty self explanatory :=)

We power our both camera/on-board monitor and Pix240 off a single big brick V-lock battery which works great. See our V-lock plate We had a special cable made to pull power for the pix from the remote port on the camera but this overloaded the system and shut everything down. You can also power the pix through the Sony battery plates on the back of the unit.

One of the most frequent questions I get is if the unit is too big? It is bigger and a little heavier than other recorders but I don’t think it’s a problem. I think the display and the SSD option outweigh everything else.

Side and top view of Pix240 on Sony F3


So. Overall I am very happy with our choice. I’ve used it on both small one interview shoots, as well as multi day drama shoots and it suits my needs perfectly. It now sits on our XDCam 700 or F3 for basically all our shoots.
If ProRes or DNxHD is your choice of media you should take a serious look at this recorder before deciding what to buy.
Next step would be the Gemini for 444… 😉

Disclaimer: I have gotten no compensation from either above mentioned companies to write this post. We payed full retail price for our Pix240. I have used both the AjaKiPro mini as well as the Pix240 in production.

Our little F3

So a few months ago we got our Sony F3.  A small body camera with a big Super 35 CMOS sensor. It has a full 10 bit  422 HDSDI out as well as the option of going fully uncompressed 10 bit 444 with S-log. My tests and shoots so far has really got me excited and I expect great things from this little camera.

The once small body of the Sony PMW-F3 is not so small any longer. Once you start adding on all the additional gear onto it, the weight adds up quickly.
This weekend we flew it on a Steadicam rig and it weighed as much as an Xdcam rig

Right now on ours we have the shoulder rig from Tilta, follow focus and matte box.

On top we have a cheese plate from Berkey. it is great cause it adds tons of attachment points for different accessories. Berkey System  We bought ours directly from them but Abel in New York is a great option.

On the plate hangs a TV-Logic 5 inch monitor as well as the Pix240 external recorder.  The plate has 2 camera attachment points which makes the plate really fit securely onto the F3.  There is full access to all controls and button

 

On the back we have a special V-lock plate with 4 hirose power connectors which allows us to power all the gadgets. It also has a PAG powertap.  All ports deliver whatever the battery does in this case between 12V-15,5V.

 

 

 

 

One more thing we are waiting for is the Pro ViewFinder kit which will allow us to use a proper HD view finder. This will allow us to take i.e the HDVF-20A viewfinder from our XDCam 700 and use it on the F3.  Right now we are only using the 5inch monitor for framing and focus and outdoors this can be a challange, to this option will be really nice.

There will be lots more written on this blog about the F3. We also own 2 XDCam cameras but this camera opens up a whole new client base for us in a very exciting way. So stay tuned for more F3 posts… 🙂

 

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